New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) announced on Wednesday morning that the children of America's most populous city would not be in their classrooms on a normal schedule this fall.
De Blasio's plan, though still vague, suggests that some students could attend classes in person part time, but that ideally no more than 9-12 students would be in one class at a time. The mayor's announcement comes on the heels of President Trump's declaration that schools must open this fall.
SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 6, 2020
Trump also indicated in a tweet that he may withhold federal funding for school districts that do not reopen, citing the political motivations of Democratic leaders across the country. De Blasio, who has stood against Trump in everything he's done or said since being sworn in as president, announced the impractical plan for NYC public schools just moments after Trump's tweet.
In Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and many other countries, SCHOOLS ARE OPEN WITH NO PROBLEMS. The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if U.S. schools open before the November Election, but is important for the children & families. May cut off funding if not open!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 8, 2020
De Blasio said that most of the 1.1 million students in New York City's public schools district, the largest in the nation, would be learning part time virtually and part time in the classroom to maintain strict social distancing guidelines. That wouldn't change, he said, until there was an effective vaccine or a cure for COVID-19.
"Basically, this blended model — this kind of split schedule model — is what we can do under current conditions,” said de Blasio. “And then, let’s hope and pray science helps us out with a vaccine, with a cure, treatment, the things that will allow us to go farther."
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) said a short time later that despite the president's consideration of cutting state funding, the control of schools and students lies with the state government.
In the White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing Wednesday morning, Vice President Pence insisted that children needed to return to their classrooms this fall, imploring state and local leaders to reopen schools for the education and mental health of America's children.
De Blasio's greatly reduced school schedule for the children of New York City comes as a bitter disappointment to many parents who believed the mayor when he promised just days ago that schools would reopen this fall. Since the beginning of the pandemic, de Blasio has faced criticism from parents for his handling of school closures and possible reopening dates.
Early on, New York City was one of the last cities in America to shutter school doors after de Blasio attempted to keep them open. The virus's danger to children at that time was still unknown, though New York had become the hotspot for infection and death in the United States.
Finally choosing to close the schools, de Blasio was then lambasted for not having a plan for childcare for the working parents now watching after their children, suddenly marooned from their classrooms. That concern then translated into long term worry, with New Yorker parents left scrambling to adapt into educators for their children, struggling to understand the NYC public school curriculums.
Parents hoping that their hardships would be over now that scientists and experts have repeatedly said that children are at the very lowest risk for COVID-19 hospitalization, death, and transmission will now have to adapt to a year or years-long battle with their schedules and abilities. A COVID-19 vaccine or "a cure" may never happen, or could take years to be developed into an effective fight against the novel virus.
With millions in New York City still out of work, the announcement that their children would not be welcomed back to their classrooms full time this fall ads a major hurdle between potential employees and jobs. Any person whose work is not possible via telecommuting will have to find an employer willing to work around an extremely limited schedule dictated by the NYC school system and Mayor de Blasio's use of "an abundance of caution."